Women’s Political Participation in Puntland – Prospects for Progress: A Study Report by SIDRA Institute


This research study was conducted by the Somali Institute for Development and Research Analysis (SIDRA) in partnership with UNDP Somalia. SIDRA Institute is a knowledge-policy interface established to fill the strategic gaps of shaping and dialoguing a wide range of policy agendas and in generating and communicating relevant research findings to policy actors in Somalia. The study aimed at assessing and documenting women’s political participation in Puntland, focusing on the recent political processes while drawing lessons from historical trends and broader societal issues surrounding women’s political participation.

The study aimed to provide policy recommendations so as to influence future interventions in the area of women and political participation in Puntland. The study used both quantitative and qualitative research methods and was conducted in four regions namely Nugaal, Karkaar, Bari and Mudug, covering a city in each region and targeting a sample of (600) six hundred respondents (Bosaaso-200, Garowe-150, Galkayo-150 and Qardho-100).

Sixty percent (60%) of the respondents were women.IMG_4045 Data was collected through public questionnaires, as well as through interviews with civil society organizations and Key Informants. The study also used Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) to thoroughly discuss issues related to women’s political participation in Puntland and was attended each time by both men and women.

Given that there is little documented on women’s participation in politics in Puntland, the selection of the respondents focused on those working directly on issues that address women’s participation in politics in Puntland. In this study SIDRA interviewed seventeen Key Informants from UNDP, UNWOMEN, JPLG, MoCFAD, MoWDAFA, The Puntland Women Councilors Network (PWCN), former and current ministers as well as six CSOs- 3 in Nugaal and 1 each region such as in Bari, Mudug and Karkaar.

The study assessed the level of Somali women’s participation in politics in Puntland and this was found to be very low. Some of the major findings of this research study include the lack of clear policy and legal frameworks that support and promote women’s political participation in Puntland. Although some elders feel that it is against the Somali tradition for women to participate in politics and public decision-making, the analyses of the results suggest something different. About 74% of the people the team interviewed spoke positively about women’s participation in politics in Puntland whereas 23% did not. Of the 74.2% 51.2 are women, 22.9 are men and for the ones against 25.8%; 14.3 women, 11.6 are men. The other 7% were of the opinion that women can participate in some selected political positions. Culture plays a significant role in influencing people’s attitudes and perceptions towards women’s participation in politics.

Another major finding was the the effect of the clan based system on women’s political participation and women’s status in general. The clan based system in Puntland is under the control of the traditional clan elders who determine who is selected and who is appointed into office and positions of power. Women in Puntland have done quite well in getting elected into local councils with 62 women currently (making 25 % of 250 total) but at parliament and in cabinet, the numbers are dismal with only 2 women parliamentarians out of the 66 total and 1 woman Minister out of 18 ministries while 3 women Vice-Ministers make up out of 19 total Vice-Ministers Women’s Political Participation in Puntland – Prospects for Progress P a g e | 6 and 1 Director General (DG) out of 18 DGs in Puntland.

Even though the current participation of women in politics in Puntland is low compared to for example neighboring countries such as Kenya or Uganda, women in Puntland are now more than ever before politically active and engaged. Women in Puntland are organizing themselves in networks and forums and collaborating closely across geographic divides. They are also organizing themselves in NGOs and political and social movements in Puntland and throughout Somalia. In the FGDs it was concluded that women in Puntland and Somali women as a whole are today in more positions of authority and have greater access to information and technology. Despite women’s enthusiams for political office, women entering or already in politics in Puntland face many challenges that range from economic, social, political and institutional. Other challenges arise from tradition and culture, lack of enabling legal frameworks, lack of political will, weak government institutions, economic disenfranchisement, limited access to education and lack of “women for women” mindset.


To support and promote women’s political participation, the study has made several recommendations with a central theme of institutions and stakeholders working together to improve the level of women participation in politics in Puntland and Somalia in general. The government should be supported to establish legal and policy frameworks that promote and support women’s political participation to establish more diverse options for women such as affirmative bases on lessons learned from successful countries. The government should also reach out to the public and engage in dialogue. Civil Society Organization should upscale sensitization, awareness creation and community mobilization to drum up support for women participation in politics. They should also educate the communities on the importance and significance of women’s participation in politics. Awareness creation and education should be specifically directed towards religious and traditional leaders, who should be aged continuously as they are the influencers and gate keepers of society. It should be noted that these recommendations cannot bear fruits overnight. Significant change will only be seen through concerted efforts and collaboration among all the stakeholders.

In the short term, affirmative action is needed to increase the number of women in leadership positions and as well as capacity enhancement of potential and current women leaders to enable them effectively engage in politics. This is necessary to propel the work forward. The study identified a number of knowledge gaps that need to be addressed: (a) Analyze in details the contribution made by the civil society organizations in the promotion of women’s political Women’s Political Participation in Puntland – Prospects for Progress P a g e | 7 participation and human rights, (b) Assess the policy gaps on gender equity in governance and politics for women empowerment, and (c) Assess the implications of culture on women’s decision making and political participation.

This study therefore fills a critical knowledge gap in understanding the factors that are influencing the success of women’s participation in politics and its recommendations will play a key role in improving people’s welfare and governance in Puntland and Somalia as a whole. The study will be an important reference for policy makers, researchers, students, NGOs and others who have a close interest on development and related topics.

Key words: Somali women, participation, politics, gender, Puntland, Somalia

Read further http://sidrainstitute.org/2-uncategorised/151-women-s-political-participation-in-puntland-prospects-for-progress



Sahro Ahmed Koshin

Deputy Executive Director & Programs Manager 

The Somali Institute for Development and Research Analysis (SIDRA)
Email: sahro@sidrainstitute.org


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